Cool facts about the Parthenon

9:16 AM

The Parthenon is a temple inside the Acropolis in Athens, Greece, dedicated to the goddess Athena. It is  considered the most important surviving building of Classical Greece.  I've recently finished reading about it in an art book and was fascinated by these facts:

1) Pericles built the temple with the funds provided by Athen's allies to build a new fleet to fight the Persians. The allies and many Athenians weren't so hot on the idea of prioritizing art over security. Plus, a lot of people just didn't like the style of the work. Because of these disputes, Pericles fell from power and Pheidias (the artist who was supervising the project) had to flee into exile.

2) Plutarch, talking about the decorative sculptures 500 years later  said: "They were created in a short time for all time. Each, immediately it was done, assumed the dignified air of antiquity, and now that they are old, they seem fresh, as though done only yesterday. They have about them the bloom of eternal youth, so that time cannot age them, they are replete with life that fades not, and a spirit which never grows old."

3) The building was already transformed into a Christian church dedicated to the Virgin Mary and into an  Islamic mosque. The Greeks used it as a treasury.

4) A lot of the sculptures that decorated the Parthenon were saved from destruction by Lord Elgin. In the 19th century he bought a great number of them from the occupying Ottoman Empire. They are now in the British Museum.

5) Since the 1980's the Greek government has been trying to get the Parthenon's sculptures back to Athens. The British Museum doesn't seem willing to return them and claims they offer the sculptures free of charge for the whole world to see and that many are available for study online. You can read more about it here.

The British Museum made an interesting video about Parthenon sculptures which I couldn't embed... It's a very good way to see them closely.

What do you think about the Parthenon and its sculptures?

Images via 1, 2, 3.  

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  1. All I knew about the Parthenon I've learned thru Monteiro Lobato's "The Minotaur" ...

    1. Hum... I don't remember what he says about it in that story, but's that's a great way of knowing it - he's such a great writer! xx


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